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Help me choose a car?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Renault78law, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    In a perfect world, it shouldn't matter to your superiors what car you drive or how you spend your paycheck.  I think for many partners at large law firms, however, an associate driving a really nice car is a constant, unpleasant reminder of the day not that many years ago that they were forced by the dot com boom to raise first-year associate salaries from $72,000 to $125,000.  Now that the dot com boom has gone bust, I am sure that many partners would like to see a return to the "good ol' days."

    Renault, if you really want a nice car, buy it.  I would feel a bit self-conscious showing up for my first day of work in a CLK430, but that's just me.
     
  2. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Mr Checks,

    I disagree with your buy/lease analysis, there are a lot of low price MB leases, especially here in Southern California. The numbers I posted earlier are real lease quotes, and show that your cost of ownership of a 99 CLK430 vs a 05 CLK500 were within $3500 of each other, not counting the cost of maintainance, which would obviously be higher on the older car. You have to take into account the interest earned on the capital, which you are otherwise throwing away by paying cash for a car, and you also have to take into account the accelerated depreciation in later years (once they get out of warranty) Yes the fastest depreciation is from year 0 to year 1, but after that, cars depreciate at a slower rate than later in their lives.
     
  3. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Another reason why, if you care about what the powers that be in your firm think (and I think you should care, at least a little bit), the issue really comes down to who you are working for. The former head of my group (retired at age 54) was a loud, "never needs sleep" lawyer who dressed incredibly well and drove expensive cars. When a senior associate bought a 7 or 8 year old Volvo wagon for his wife, the partner exclaimed -- "Jesus, Jim, don't we pay you enough to get something better than that?"
     
  4. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    AC,

    Exactly.

    When Bob Gunderson and his firm made the fateful decision to raise starting salaries for their associates to $125K, and Tower Snow and his now-defunct firm made the even more fateful decision to take that salary scale nationwide (forcing raises at the other national firms), the "us" vs "them" element in partner/associate relations became a much greater issue, at least where money is concerned.

    Kai--I don't know how long it has been since you worked in BigLaw, but the late 90's phenomenon of the "Greedy Associates" web fora where associates bitch about salary issues, plus the dot com-driven raises and the big firms' profitability pushes of the past 5 years, have created significant culture shifts at many firms.  Firms that once prized their collegiality have pushed out or de-equitized significant numbers of partners, and slashed the shares of others who remain.  I don't disagree with your premise that you wouldn't want to be judged on stupid things like how much you spend on a car, but you might be surprised how many pricks are out there.
     
  5. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    Agreed.  Two additional, somewhat relevant, points:

    1. The extra money to pay associates has to come from somewhere, and it sure ain't the partners' pockets.  Many firms have raised billable requirements and made the practice of law much more of a business than a profession.

    2. Large law firms are a lot like fraternities.  Most of the partners are former associates of large law firms, if not the particular firm at which they are a partner.  Many of them have the attitude that "I had to put up with a bunch of crap when I was coming up through the ranks, so you should too."
     
  6. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    Drizz,
    I think the argument for a leased car is more sensible on the East Coast.  I had no idea what kind of effect snow, salt, and the de-icing chemicals had on cars until I moved to New York.  The '67(65?) Mustang Fastbacks that dot Southern California are nowhere to be found in the Tri-State Area.  This is not a coincidence.  I still think buying might be a better decision if you live in California, especially if the lease has mileage restrictions and drive around LA or the Bay Area.
     
  7. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    Personally, if I had 40k, I would spend 28K on a V-6 Camry, 7k on a used Patek Caltrava, and invest the rest of the cash (for the next car fund when you make partner).
     
  8. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I disagree with your buy/lease analysis, there are a lot of low price MB leases, especially here in Southern California. The numbers I posted earlier are real lease quotes, and show that your cost of ownership of a 99 CLK430 vs a 05 CLK500 were within $3500 of each other, not counting the cost of maintainance, which would obviously be higher on the older car.
    Drizz, I think the argument for a leased car is more sensible on the East Coast. I had no idea what kind of effect snow, salt, and the de-icing chemicals had on cars until I moved to New York. The '67(65?) Mustang Fastbacks that dot Southern California are nowhere to be found in the Tri-State Area. This is not a coincidence. I still think buying might be a better decision if you live in California, especially if the lease has mileage restrictions and drive around LA or the Bay Area.
    norcal, That is true about the wear and tear on the car, but one other thing to keep in mind is that the mileage restrictions are adjustable, albeit at a cost, If you don't drive a lot (and if you live in west LA, you probably won't drive all that much) a 10k mileage restriction will give you a really cheap lease price. I paid cash for my E55AMG and really wish I would have leased it (although I got most of it out of the car upon selling)
     
  9. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    Originally Posted by matadorpoeta,Mar. 23 2005,16:15
    go down to guadalajara or mexico city and buy a brand new alfa romeo, peugeot
    You gotta be kiddin me. Â Totally Impractical. How are you going to get them serviced and repaired in the States? Are they in compliance with federal and state emission and safety standards? Â Are they even certified to be on the road in the US? Assume they are insurable, how much more for insurance premium? Â Whom are you going to sell them to or trade-in with when it's time to get a new car?
    yes. they are insurable and in compliance with federal safety standards. if a handmade morgan with a wooden chassis can be insured, anything can. there could be an issue with having it pass the smog test in california, but there are ways around that, wink wink. as for who you're going to sell it to... why would you want to sell an alfa? the only real issue i see is that of repairs and maintenance. i'll grant you that. however, i  know that alfa is still supplying parts for the cars they sold in the '80s and early '90s,  so i don't think it's out of the question for their US distributor to get new parts for him. as a last resort, one could drive down to tijuana and order them there, or have them sent from mexico. people in mexico who have vintage porsches, mercedes, etc... buy their replacement parts from the US and have them mailed to them. where there's the will there's a way. he wouldn't be the only guy in l.a. with a non US car, but he'd have the only brand new alfa romeo spyder in town. that's cool. btw, my original post was a serious recommendation. mercedes are cool. i used to have a '75 280C, but every other guy in l.a. has one. with the emphasis this board puts on being unique, i would have thought my advice would be welcome with open arms. oh well, lawyers...
     
  10. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    BTW my personal solution to this quandary (which I was facing a couple years ago) was to get an E55 but I ended up selling it after a year of owning it, and purchased a 2000 Accord for daily driving (I put way too many miles on my cars) and a 2003 911 Turbo for weekend driving, and I can almost justify it due to driving 35k miles per year or so, I'd much rather put that mileage on the Accord [​IMG]
     

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